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SLAP SHOTS // The fun stuff

On-time delivery: Although Detroit goalie Mike Vernon's contract problems were solved two weeks ago, he was fretting last week about being in the lineup opening night. No fear. Jane Vernon came through. She delivered a 7-pound, 3-ounce girl named Amelia Nora in time for her husband to catch the team's plane to Colorado.

Happy camper: Buffalo general manager John Muckler noted that he's attended 45 NHL training camps. To which Sabres rookie coach Ted Nolan replied: "I haven't seen 45 years, let alone 45 camps." Nolan is 37.

Pass the Palmolive: Richard Park, a second-round pick in 1994, made Pittsburgh as a fourth-line center. The South Korean native will "do anything" to stay. "I'll be fifth-line center," he said. "Or do dishes."

Watch the kids: Georges Laraque, Edmonton's second-round draft pick, was sent to the minors, but not before making a big impression. "I've never seen a 16-ounce piece of meat disappear so fast," Edmonton right wing David Oliver said after taking the 6-foot-3, 237-pounder out to dinner.

Oilers director of player personnel Kevin Prendergast, who had the 18-year-old Laraque live with his family during training camp, added, "He wore out the fridge door. We almost needed a new one. My kids had to eat first or he might have eaten them at our table, too."

_ CAMMY CLARK

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